"I laughed, cried, felt the urgency . . . the story will take you to another dimension of 'ahhh' moments of reflection and insight that will 'gotcha.' I could read this book again and again and get something more. I enjoyed i from the second I began to read."

"A thick slice of MaryAnn Easley pie. Oozing UFOs, sweet on science, and warm with fantasy. This veteran children's writer's many young fans should be satiated.....for now!"

Saturday, April 18, 2015


Poetry is painting with words and is a personal, creative art form that uses imagery and metaphor. Shakespeare's stories are resplendent with metaphors. Take a look at Romeo and Juliet with Romeo referring to Juliet as "the sun" or Sonnet 18 with the words: Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer's Day, and you'll see all forms of metaphor.

Elements used in poetry can also be used in our own writing. Poetry has subtext, simile, and metaphor; so should good prose.  One of the tricks Ray Bradbury uses is elevating his writing by taking something simple and transforming it into something beautiful through the use of metaphors.

Poetry uses symbols, theme, and motifs.

In The Things They Carried, Tim O'Brien nearly takes my breath away with prose that often reads like poetry.

They carried all the emotional baggage of men who might die. Grief, terror, love, longing—these were intangibles, but the intangibles had their own mass and specific gravity, they had tangible weight. They carried shameful memories. They carried the common secret of cowardice barely restrained, the instinct to run or freeze or hide, and in many respects this was the heaviest burden of all, for it could never be put down, it required perfect balance and perfect posture. They carried the soldier’s greatest fear, which was the fear of blushing. Men killed, and died, because they were embarrassed not to.

The "things" that O’Brien’s characters carry during war are literal and figurative. While the soldiers carry heavy physical loads, they also carry emotional things, such as, terror, love, and grief. Each man’s physical burden underscores his emotional burden. Faced with the heavy burden of fear, the men of Alpha Company also carry the weight of their reputations and showing fear can reveal vulnerability to the enemy, fellow soldiers, and themselves.

In revising our prose, we need to strive for such excellence in word choice, deftly including literary elements seen in poetry:  symbols, theme, motifs and metaphor. Then we can kick our fiction writing up a notch from that SFD to something of merit.

Monday, April 13, 2015


April is National Poetry Month and April 30th is "poem in your pocket" day. In celebration, I am sharing a special poem written by Ted Kooser that I pull out and use every year. You might like to share it with others.

by Ted Kooser

If this comes creased and creased again and soiled

as if I’d opened it a thousand times

to see if what I’d written here was right,

it’s all because I looked too long for you

to put in your pocket. Midnight says

the little gifts of loneliness come wrapped

by nervous fingers. What I wanted this

to say was that I want to be so close

that when you find it, it is warm from me.

Monday, April 6, 2015


Ralph Waldo Emerson once said that poetry is "what will and must be spoken."

April is National Poetry Month, and I celebrate by hosting community poetry events and revisiting poetry in my writing classes.

Edward Hirsch, poetry editor of DoubleTake magazine and author of four volumes of poetry, including "Wild Gratitude" and "Earthly Measures," has some of my favorite thoughts about poetry:

"Read a poem to yourself in the middle of the night. Turn on a single lamp and read it while you're alone in an otherwise dark room or while someone else sleeps next to you. Read it when you're wide awake in the early morning, fully alert. Say it over to yourself in a place where silence reigns and the din of the culture—the constant buzzing noise that surrounds us—has momentarily stopped. This poem has come from a great distance to find you."

Reading a poem is an intimate and solitary experience that should be treasured.  Once a poem is understood, it evolves to live inside the reader. Reading a poem demands we pay attention and concentrate in an era when we're inattentive and distracted by the busyness of our days. As Hirsh suggests, "poetry is a solitary, intimate and passionately private communication of a soul to another soul."

When I taught middle school, I told my fourteen-year-old boy students that the best way to get a girl's attention was to read her a poem; better yet, write her one. These boys did, and so did the girls, and we formed the Society of Poets. We read poems in a coffeehouse setting in the classroom on Fridays. The weekly event brought appreciation for each other as well as sighs and tears and even the local press. To belong to this elite group, students had to write 100 poems. Thirteen, fourteen, and fifteen-year-old kids dug deep to find ways to express what had before been inexpressible, feelings about love, insecurity, depression, fear, and war.

As Hirsch said, "The great individual poem is the message salvaged from a shipwreck and sealed in the bottle. Take the time to go down to the dunes and search for that bottle. When you find it, bring it home because it is now yours. This haunted and haunting message was meant for you."

Celebrate National Poetry Month! Join us Thursday, April 16th from 1-3 at Sea Country Center in Laguna Niguel, 949-425-5151, and hear five of my favorite performance poets: John Gardiner, Ricki Mandeville, Michael Sprake, Ellyn Maybe, and Kate Buckley.  They will increase your appreciation of the spoken word.